Monday August 12, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28c) Gospel (St. Matthew 17:22-27)
When we deal with things in the spiritual life, the struggle most often is the balance. And in the spiritual life, things that would appear to be complete and total opposites are what is actually truth. We see that exact same thing in the readings today. We have Our Lord telling us in the Gospel reading that the Son of Man is to be handed over to men, they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day. Now, for ourselves, we have an idea of what that all looked like. He was scourged; He was crowned with thorns; He was beaten; He was taken out to Calvary with the Cross on His shoulders; He fell down several times; He would have been dirty and bloody; He would have been a mess. Then, at the same time, we have what Ezekiel sees. He sees One who has the form of a man, seated upon a throne; and from what appears to be His waist, above that, something that gleams like electrum, something that is glowing and shining; and beneath what resembles His waist, it was like a fire. So we have the glory of God appearing, that is, God in the glory of His heavens. But at the same time, when we try to put the two together, it would, on the natural level, seem to make no sense. How could One who would glow, One who is radiant, at the same time be the One who is dirty and bloody and beaten and bruised and everything else?
What we need to understand as we look at these things is that they are the same; they are both the revelation of the glory of God. That is the part where the spiritual life puts the two opposites together, and that is what needs to happen over and over again. So as we look at Our Lord in this way, we recognize that His glory on earth was not of the Transfiguration, it was not when He appeared in his heavenly glory, when His clothes became dazzlingly white and He glowed; but rather, His glory on earth was when He was beaten and whipped and scourged, it was when He was crucified and when He was dirty and bloody and bruised. That was His glory for us. And it is that glory which we must look upon. It is that glory which we must accept, believe, and bow down and worship in order to be able to enter into the other glory because when Jesus Christ came into this world He took on our human form, He took on our sins, and He brought our sins to the Cross. It was in that that He glorified the Father, more than anything else that He did.
That becomes our glory, then, to be able to share in His glory. But it is not just sharing His glory in Heaven; that is what awaits us. As long as we remain in this lowly human form of ours, then we must share His glory on earth, which is to be able to share in His Passion. It is in doing that that we share in His exaltation. It is an irony. It seems to be totally contradictory; yet that is the nature of the spiritual life, not just in this one area, but in almost every area in the spiritual life. Things which seem like total opposites, as we continue to work through the spiritual life, are actually completely congruous, and they work perfectly in balance together. It merely requires the eyes of faith to be able to see and the grace of God to be able to understand. Today we see the clearest indication of that where we see the glory of the Lord being revealed in two separate ways. Yet it is the same glory; it is the glory of the Son of God giving that eternal glory to His heavenly Father and showing His glory to us - and not merely showing it to us, but inviting us to share in His glory. If we want to share in that eternal glory, that is, the glory in Heaven where we too will be radiant, we must first share in His glory on earth - the glory of the Cross, the glory of the Passion - to be united with Him in His suffering so that we can be united with Him in His radiance in Heaven.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.